Whole Awakenings

I’ve been sitting here and wondering how to start this, and realized I should just start with a hearty HI!

whole

A whole HI, if you will. A hearty HI, and a whole HI, equals a wholehearted HI. And that’s really why I’m here today. It’s to tell you everything I hope and dream for the next year or so, and if I were to label it under one word, what would it be?

whole

It would be WHOLE.

Second place might be awake, because every time I think about this or put it into words, I think of the movie Wide Awake and the movie Awakenings. Then there’s this gem of a song by Ben Folds. I sometimes feel like I sleep through parts of life.

“I know it seems that I don’t care
But something in me does I swear
I don’t remember all last year
I left you awake to cry the tears”

It’s funny to me how you can sleepwalk through certain aspects of your life, while putting others at front and center attention. You don’t even realize it. And then when you realize it – usually through no credit to yourself – it seems so OBVIOUS. Why? Why didn’t you notice? Why did you sleepwalk through parts of life? Why did you leave others awake? Alas, as a wise friend said, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just do better. Fuller. Wholeheartedly. Longer, harder, louder.

(Bear with me – those three words come up later.)

For the better half of last year, or the worse half, I was sleepwalking through parts of life. I had enough work to do to make me cry, daily. I think it could have sunk a ship. Blogging has busy seasons, photography has busy seasons, but nothing prepares you to do them at once. Then when you get offered a data entry job that would literally sink a ship (tons of boxes of papers), and have to do that on top of two very busy seasons of careers, well, you could cry. But there wouldn’t be time for that.

So you just laugh maniacally.

I have big dreams for this blog, both in terms of coming right back to the heart of it – this weird free-writing I do with relevant(ish) photos – and the career work I do here. I do it with all my heart. Whether it’s the blog, or other social media platforms – it’s more than a career; it’s love. It’s more than love; it’s a career. I feel meant to be connected. The fact that I can get paid to do that is a little unreal, but it reminds me of what I let slip slowly away from me at the end of 2016.

Doing things with my WHOLE heart – and not just to get them done.

Before the holiday break, I worried I had forgotten how to feel. We saw Rogue One in the theaters and it hit Cassidy hard, among others. I felt broken by not being able to wrap my head around it. Weeks later on New Year’s Eve, Cassidy’s good friend suggested that maybe the movie didn’t give the emotional foundation to care so much about the characters. Or maybe it did, but an alternative to me being “broken”, is that different things hit us differently at different times.

And maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

I really believe that every numb feeling, and idea or emotion that doesn’t quite reach my heart or eyes, means I care too much. Sometimes it pays for me to be covered in Band-Aids, and only sometimes lifting them up – slowly but surely – rather than ripping off all the things. Movies and books, love and laughter, celebrity deaths and scary political elections. Travel dreams realized, and travel dreams still to become. School starting, and the endless, slowly rotational act of letting them go.

Little by little.

Piece by piece.

Better by better.

Milestone by milestone.

Breath by breath.

What does it mean to do things with my WHOLE self? It’s about honoring the whole deal, and taking it that extra step. The little things are the big things. Skim a blog post? Nah, read it. Better yet – SHARE it. Take that love to FB, Instagram, and Twitter too! Outside the career love, take those steps with every aspect of everything. What’s the summary of that?

Not only am I not going to phone it in, I’m going to take extra steps. LEAPS.

I want to..

Hug for a little longer

Kiss a little harder

Laugh a little louder

Dance a little longer

Love a little harder

Sing a little louder

Oh, and drink water a lot more

Eat a lot better

Exercise a lot more and for a lot longer…

WHOLE.

I Actually Picked a Word of the Year!

And the word of the year is MOOSE.

one word

Just kidding, mostly, but hear me out here. Say seeing moose is one of my resolutions, which it is. To see moose, you have to do something. You have to move your heart. You have to move your body. There are logistics involved. And excitement, and maybe a bit of fear. As much as Scarlet is hoping one will wander into our yard, which my neighbor says happened once five years ago, you have to make it happen with moose. That’s how they are. So you have to do research. You have to do the work – booking a hotel, or planning a day trip. Getting camera equipment ready. Being prepared. Going. Seeing moose.

As I said on a comment on dear Iva’s blog:

“..I want to see more moose. That’s a resolution. However, that resolution includes getting out of my comfort zone and planning a trip. Not to mention the photography and writing involved with said experience. Is all of that cheating? I figured it was better than saying, “eat more chocolate.” (or cookies)

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My resolutions all meet in the middle. They’re all about being brave. They’re all about being connected. They’re all about being healthy. They’re about practicing what I preach. My #OneWord of the year is PRACTICE. I learned so much in 2014.

Did I put it into practice? Well, maybe some of it. I only get partial credit. What did I learn?

– I learned that I have PTSD-caused anxiety sometimes. I learned that it got worse than it ever had, surrounding the issue of my daughter starting kindergarten. I learned that it was a tragic period in my own life and that my body remembered more than my mind did. What I used to think was just a quirk has a name and is actually classified under mental illness. It’s ok to say it. It’s ok to yell it. 80% (or more) of us will suffer from depression and/or anxiety at some point in life, however fleeting. I’ve only just begun the descent into discovering more about my own. It’s scary. I don’t want to plummet too fast. I don’t want to decompress. I go down slowly – one step at a time – into the mess that is my mind. And into the memories of the greatest and earliest loss I know. I want to treat the cause and not the symptoms, although if it comes to that, so be it.

Maybe both at once.

One Word

– I learned that I’m surrounded by wonderful people, and that while it’s tempting to hide behind my computer and only focus on the wonderful online life (which is very wonderful and very real), I’m glad that so many of my in-person friendships have not only flourished despite my anxiety, but I’ve made NEW friends too! How does that happen? I feel like the biggest nut in the.. nut package.. always. Even today. I wasn’t feeling great. A friend stopped by to pick up Scarlet for a playdate, only to stay here with her daughter for four hours. We all lazed around or worked or even napped (ahem) and snacked. That’s friendship when you can be completely useless for an entire day and you’re still going to be friends and hang out next week.

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– I learned, through an anniversary road trip, that I live within easy driving distance of moose. I always have. I probably always will. I dream about them. It’s time to just do it. I don’t want to dream. I just want to do it more.

Moose, I’m coming for you!

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– I learned that although it can be hard to let people in and out of our hearts and lives, it’s a fact of life. Make those moments count. Kiss them full on the lips. Tickle them past bedtime, and always, always choose fort-making over laundry folding.

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(In fact, I just realized I was festering up in my office before bedtime, so I quickly took a blog writing break and ran downstairs to make sure I got a proper goodnight to my kids. Last night of vacation and all! These things count.)

– I learned that I can comfortably photograph weddings and newborns and houses and candles and weird active chilled beams.

Mules too.

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– I learned that I have to drink more water. Why on earth don’t I drink more water, when we’re given the knowledge that doing so will lead to better health, better digestion, more energy, better skin, and magical rainbow unicorns?

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– I learned more about writing. I learned about my writing with its dense background. Writing is as important to me as photography, but it’s more difficult. If it were the only thing I loved, I’d probably be screwed because what else would I do for money, when I’m so hesitant to write for money? That said, this was not a big year for writing outside of my blog. It was a year for photography and anxiety and data entry and puppy dog tails. Literally. As well as weird cats that I only like for 5% of the day. (it’s during that 5% because Bella is cutely on my lap right now) I spent a lot of the end of 2014 wishing I could be writing as much as photographing. 2015 will be a year for anthologies. I’ve been working on submitting to some already, actually. Stay tuned. (my fingers are crossed!) Speaking of which, I was featured in Touched Magazine over the weekend!

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And so, 2014 was a bit weird. There were wonderful, stable times..

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There were also a lot of times that felt like this..

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Or there were the times that I thought would feel like this..

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..but they actually felt more like this:

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I’ve been feeling a bit doubtful, despite 2015 having the sweetest start. I’ve been feeling like I won’t achieve.. anything. And that I’ll be shaking in a corner soon enough, and that I’m in over my head in every direction.

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And every now and then, I can believe. I can believe in myself. I can think “I’ve got this.” Time to put it into practice.

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**I’ve never picked a Word of the Year before. It’s true that I feared I would sound schmarmy doing so, but mainly it’s because I never had one speak to me. This year, PRACTICE spoke to me so I decided to run with it. Do you have a word?